Friday, July 22, 2011

I was a Volaris Virgin...

...but no longer. I have a new view of Volaris, a Mexican budget airline. It was a few years ago that I made a reservation with Volaris to speed our return from Oaxaca to Toluca. But at almost the last moment, the airline cancelled the route.  [begin sarcasm] I will give them this: the agent offered us a flight at no additional cost, from Oaxaca to to Tijuana and thence back to Toluca. I may not remember clearly, but there may have been a stopover in Monterrey. [/end sarcasm]

I was pissed, especially when I requested a refund, and I was given a complicated list of instructions that involved, among other things, scanning our passports and emailing them. Fortunately for us, a savvy friend suggested that we just contact the credit card company for a refund. That done, we got a charge back within 6 months. Good work on the part of the credit card company, but not on Volaris' part.

This spring, however, I saw a super cheap fare on Volaris, from GDL to SJC. Even with forward seating and trip insurance (given our unfortunate history with Volaris), the fare was $562 USD for two, round trip. That was perfect, as we wanted to attend the quinceañera of the daughter of the folks who own the house that we rent. At the same time, we could visit my in-laws in Campbell, CA, all conveniently situated close to the quinceañera folks, and peripherally, several fascinating dining opportunities.

After a night in the lovely Casa de Las Palomas in Tonalá in which we weathered a ferocious storm, we took a long cab ride to the GDL Airport. There we laced our way back and forth to check in, got documents filled out at Immigration, then back to the check in, where we were allowed to saltar la fila. With only a fast donut break at the in-house Krispy Kreme, we finished our check-in and went for breakfast at Burger King. It was a good Whopper, much better than the one on Calzada La Huerta in Morelia.

We ascended/descended to the Volaris waiting rooms.
It was there that I had my first sighting of the lovely birds,
Aves Illae Volaris Azafatae. (I'm certain my attempts at Latin will be corrected. Bring it on.)

Avis Illa Azafatae Volaris
By their smart uniforms and perky demeanor, it seemed as though they were just done with a remake of Catch Me If You Can. But besides being attractive, they are first rate hostesses. I had no sense of authoritarian or chilly efficiency as we have experienced with some U.S. airlines flight attendants.
(A notable exception was the First Class flight attendant on another airline, who when I requested a pillow, jokingly told me that there were none, but that I might rest my head on her bosom. I am not inventing this.)

The Volaris azafatas distributed snacks* and drinks with smiles and charm. I was entranced. I was also impressed by their snappy tailored uniforms, the precise details of which I cannot describe, due to my deficiency of couturier vocabulary.

The safety video on our return flight was done by cute kids, speaking Spanish, of course, with English subtitles, and for once, was hard to ignore.

Our return flight was at 12:30 PDT and so there were free alcoholic beverages offered by our hostesses. I had a cafecito con ron, and when asked if it was all right, I said I could hardly taste the rum, so they graciously poured more.

We've rarely had such pleasant flights as this, our first with Volaris.

*The one downside, if any, is that the snacks, while varied, are still comida chatarra. (Junk food.)

Mexico should be proud of this fine airline and its excellent staff. They are in partnership with U.S. based Southwest Airlines. I will be looking for more opportunities to fly with Volaris.


Tancho said...

The whole flying experience on this side of the border, from security to plane seating and takeoff is a whole bunch more civilized. Flying already is demanding but at least Volaris seems to have some class and dignity left.
And the "birds" are way more attractive and pleasing to the eye and ears than their US counterparts that won the age discrimination lawsuits of a few years ago and came back to disgruntled (bad attitude) work.....

Steve Cotton said...

Nice post. Mentioning the Burger King in the Guadalajara airport brought back some of the memories I wrote about on my trip to Mexico City. I just might give Volaris a try one of these days.

Don Cuevas said...

Tancho; you are SO non PC. But then, maybe so am I.

Don Cuevas

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip report, information about the airline. I think the "partnership" with Southwest is limited to code sharing only. Carlos Slim and Televisa owners started the airline with TACA airline owners, but the two Mexicans sold their interest. One of the principals now is a former senior official of America West. Flying Volaris hasn't been convenient for me, yet, but who knows about the future. Any comparisons about flying in the USA and Mexico are probably apples-to-oranges. USA flying in the USA changed completely on 9/11. I enjoyed flying with the now-defunct Mexicana, and still fly with AeroMexico and prefer both to most USA based carriers. Thanks again for your report.

Anonymous said...

Last year I traveled Volaris once from Tijuana to Monterrey and I was also impressed, especially with the price (which has since gone up).

They seem very professional, unlike my bad experiences with Aviacsa who cancelled flights until they had enough passengers to make it worthwhile for them.